This article is also available in: हिन्दी (Hindi)
The Romanian beauty walked in looking confident, wearing an off-white dress and a wide smile. This interview was about leaving aside all the gossip about her and Salman Khan; and bringing out the real IULIA VANTUR. Content in her own space, the girl who is poised for her Bollywood debut with Radha Kyon Gori Main Kyon Kaala, wants nothing more from life. Her shared stories of her life and inclination towards spirituality surprised Hasti Doshi.
Let’s start with your childhood in Romania… discovering your talents, your skill at hosting, your journey to India… and now acting in Bollywood. What are your strongest memories?
The first memory that comes to my mind is of winters, as a child, when dad and I used to go skiing, and I used to play all day with my friends. My mom used to rub my cold feet and hands, then get me hot coffee… these are beautiful memories. I like challenges and I guess that’s why I’ve reached here. I feel life is a journey and we have to make the most of it. Everything was very sudden in my life. I got into news anchoring, but it wasn’t planned at all. In fact, they didn’t want a girl who looked like me, a blonde. Yet, I got the job and I was extremely happy. My journey began there. Later, I became a TV host with the show Dancing With The Stars for eight years. I believe everything happens at the right time. But you need to be ready for it, and I was always ready for any challenges in my life.
Can you sum up your entire journey in just one word?
‘Exploration’. That’s the word that is my entire journey. I like to try new things and I am curious.
What were your dreams and aspirations as a child?
I never played the kind of games that kids play. I would dance. Since my childhood, I wanted to learn ballet. I used to practice it on my own in my huge bedroom, and dance all around the house. Now, I want to learn it again. After I have wrapped up my debut movie here, I will go back and learn it.
Have your dreams changed now?
I have had enough of a career and I don’t have many big aspirations now. But I would like to continue doing good things to grow. Now my aspiration is family, and I would like to have one.
Is there a timeline you have set for yourself to get settled?
It’s very difficult to set up targets like that because it is all God’s will. Growing up, we imagine that we will marry at a certain age, and all that. But life isn’t a fairytale, and there are many twists and turns. You need a person to share life’s journey with, and it’s all good when you are together. But when it comes to putting things down on paper, things turn around. I don’t know why it happens, but that’s what I’ve seen. I guess the responsibility and priorities change, which is why people face issues.
Who would you give credit for bringing you to where you are and making you what you are?
The very first is God, who plans everything. The other one is my acting teacher who told me to audition for a show that was being cast. At that time, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go or not. But she was the one who pushed me and led the way, because of which I am here now. I’ve always had women who’ve brought me up and helped me… like, the producer of the TV show I hosted, was a lady. And everywhere else I have worked, it’s always been women in the lead.
When did you start learning Hindi and plan to sing Hindi songs? What was your exposure to Bollywood music?
The first line I learnt in Hindi was the ‘Tu mera dost hai’, dialogue of Bobby Deol’s film Nanhe Jaisalmer. Of course, then I learnt Namaste, Shukriya and other expressions slowly. I am surrounded by Bollywood and I learn everything from around me. My exposure as a child to Bollywood was limited to watching Raj Kapoor films. Later there was a gap, hardly any Bollywood movies were shown in Romania. But now, they have started showing movies in Romania again, because of all the stories that are running around – like Salman Khan did something and then Iulia did this, and all that stuff.
Is there any Bollywood singer you look up to?
I feel AR Rahman’s music is the best. I also love Lata Mangeshkar’s voice. My favourite song is ‘Lag Ja Gale’. From the newer generation, Sonu Nigam, Shreya Ghosal and Palak Mucchal are lovely singers. Palak is a lovely girl and I really admire her for the charity she does.
How do you deal with rumours and social media trolls?
Many things in life start with a good idea and good intentions, but people manage to ruin it. People go in the wrong direction. Social media was not created to put negativity out there. People can hide behind the invisibility of social media, and say anything to vent their frustrations and spread negativity. But you are only damaging yourself. Someone else is not going to get affected by your comments, you are going to be affected for what you carry in your heart. I’m not saying everyone has to like you, but there are ways to say things. This is the negative part of social media that everyone is fed up of. People in Bollywood feel it’s rubbish too. We are here to enjoy the platform, not ruin it.
The ‘#MeToo’ movement in Bollywood has brought out several shocking incidents. As a newcomer to in this industry, does it scare you?
I am a strong woman, and I won’t allow anyone to misbehave with me. I also know I have the strength to react if I don’t like something. Unfortunately, there are women who don’t have the strength, and are in situations where they can’t say anything to stop it. It’s really sad that this is happening. It’s not something that’s started happening now, it’s been going on since years. People are only talking about it now. Not just women, even men should come out and talk about it, because it’s important to put an end to it. When you talk about it, you should know what it’s all about, what the ‘Me Too’ movement is. It’s about sexual harassment, sexual attack. And when it happens at work because someone is in a position to take advantage and paralyze someone so that the other person can’t say or do anything, that’s really wrong. We should all come together to fight this.
If a book was written on your life, what should it be titled?
‘The Journey’ would really explain me well. I feel I have gone through this long journey to reach here.
If you do get settled now, will you continue to act and sing?
I think singing can be done your whole life, that’s the beauty of it. A woman should do things that give her emotional and mental satisfaction. Also, you have to be an inspiration to your kids. I think the most difficult part for a woman is to be a mother, and I respect all women who are mothers.
If you were a mother, which three qualities would you want your child to have?
The first one is honesty, second is to be responsible for your own life, and last would be the capacity to enjoy and have gratitude for life.
After hosting shows, walking the ramp, singing, and now, acting, what else can we expect to see you do in the near future?
I really don’t know what the future has in store for me, but I am ready for everything that comes my way.